Co-writer and director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder waits until the last half hour to show its woke cards, which is okay. You can’t ruin an already bad movie.
The woketardery does, of course, make things worse. The last thing a bad movie needs is to pile on more bad—and the bad goes like this: For no reason other than to check the woke boxes, we’re treated to a shoehorned conversation between the lesbian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and gay Kronan (voiced by Taika Waititi) about their homosexual love lives. For equity purposes (or something), this conversation is intercut into a heterosexual romantic scene between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane, aka Lady Thor (Natalie Portman).
Oh, but don’t call her “Lady Thor.” She goes full-Karen if you call her “Lady Thor.” Actually, do call her “Lady Thor” because an outraged and offended “Lady Thor” can kick a whole lot more villainous butt than a non-outraged Lady Thor.
Imagine all the lives that might have been saved had someone called her “Lady Thor” in the first act instead of the last…
The effect of all this awkward woking is off-putting, makes no sense story-wise, kills the emotion we’re supposed to feel for Thor and Jane, but does have one positive: it turns a forgettable movie into one that leaves a bad taste in your mouth—which makes it memorable, I guess.
So Thor is still a clueless white guy hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy (in criminally wasted cameos) until he receives a message that someone is slaying all of the universe’s gods, and Asgard is next.
Jane, who we will now call Little Miss Uptight Lady Thor, is dying of Stage 4 cancer, but don’t worry, it’s that Movie Cancer where she still looks like a Victoria’s Secret model—not today’s Victoria’s Secret models, who are all fat or guys, but the good kind we remember.
Anyway, Thor’s hammer, which is now on display at an amusement park, beckons Jane and turns her into Little Miss Uptight Lady Thor.
The bad guy is Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale). His threat comes from a sword with the power to kill gods. Bale is excellent. Unfortunately, he’s too good. It’s as though he’s performing in an alternate universe where Thor: Love and Thunder is a good movie. The additional problem is that his Master Plan plan makes no sense. We know why he’s murdering the gods. I get that. I don’t get this: Gorr’s goal is to reach the Center of the Universe, where anyone can make a wish the universe will grant. Gorr’s wish is to kill all the gods.
Why is Gorr wasting his time running around slaying gods, which tips the gods off that he’s a mortal threat, which tips off Thor and Little Miss Uptight Lady Thor, and their gay companions? Naturally, they will try to stop him. So why didn’t Gorr find a way to quietly get his hands on Thor’s ax (the key to open the center of the universe) and kill all the gods with that wish?
Oh, and why did Thanos go to all that trouble to gather Infinity Stones when he could’ve just asked the Center of the Universe for his wish?
Anyway, Bale is great in that role. I also enjoyed Russell Crowe’s showy scene as a Tubby Zeus. I also enjoyed watching Tessa Thompson blow everyone off the screen. She should have been given more to do. Valkyrie is pretty cool.
Love and Thunder’s biggest problem is tone. Waititi is desperate to hold onto the irreverence that made Thor: Ragnarok (2017) a fan favorite. Well, that just doesn’t work in a movie about cancer, a dead daughter, kidnapped kids, and a tortured and haunted villain. And while my memory might be off, it seems that Thor is a lot more clueless and clumsy here. In previous movies, he might have been an awkward fish-out-of-water. Here, he’s like a bumbling, arrogant, and clueless Inspector Clouseau accidentally winning the day. Waititi is so eager to emasculate the guy we see him wearing a kitchen apron.
If the impressive crowd at my 4 p.m. matinee means anything, Love and Thunder will make a fortune. But out of a hundred jokes, I heard about three scattered laughs.